March 21, 2018

Bihar Congress in disarray as infighting escalates

The Congress’ central leadership is facing criticism from its Bihar unit for its handling of party affairs in the state where four of the party’s members of legislative council (MLCs) joined the ruling Janata Dal (United) on Thursday.

Former Bihar Congress chief Ashok Chaudhary and his close associates Dilip Kumar Choudhary, Ramchandra Bharti and Tanvir Akhtar joined the JD(U) and blamed Congress general secretary CP Joshi for their exit.

The move comes at a time when six Rajya Sabha seats from Bihar will go to polls on March 23. Out of 27 Congress legislators, Chaudhary is said to enjoy the support of at least 15.

“Joshi pushed us out of the Congress,” alleged Chaudhary, who was removed from the top state party post in September last year. Senior leader Kaukab Qadri was named the acting chief.

Chaudhary, a Dalit face of the Congress, was the education minister in the previous government of the Congress-JD(U) grand alliance which came to power in 2015.

Joshi and Chaudhary shared a good rapport at one time. Despite repeated complaints by several state leaders against Chaudhary, Joshi had insisted that he stay on as Congress state chief even after he became a minister.

Joshi’s inaction had prompted several state leaders to approach then Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi who assured them of strict action against those working against the interests of the party.

In July last year, when Chaudhary, known to be close to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, expressed his unhappiness with the Congress for not breaking its ties with the Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) after the JD(U) dumped the grand alliance, Joshi and him had a fallout.

Chaudhary then started blaming Joshi for fuelling rebellion in the Bihar Congress and spreading “lies” about him.

When contacted, Joshi refused to comment on Chaudhary’s allegations. “He happened to be my party colleague and I don’t discuss party affairs in the media,” Joshi said.

Joshi, considered close to Rahul Gandhi, holds charge of ten states.

He looks after the party’s affairs in Assam, West Bengal, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur apart from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, aside from Bihar.

It remains to be seen if Chaudhary’s exit will have any impact on the Congress’ chances to bag any Rajya Sabha seats in the contest on March 23.

State Congress leaders are of the view that indecisiveness on the part of the Congress high command to name a new chief in Bihar and growing infighting will cost the party dearly in the coming days.

“The organisation is in bad shape and the frustration level is very high among the workers. Factionalism is rampant. Both Joshi and Chaudhary have systematically destroyed the Congress,” a party leader from Bihar said refusing to be named.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times

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